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Cyclone Nivar: 16 Years On, Puducherry Couple Back in Same Relief Camp They Came to When Tsunami Hit

Puducherry fisherman Shivalingam and his wife Umarani. (Photo credit: Riyaz)

Puducherry fisherman Shivalingam and his wife Umarani. (Photo credit: Riyaz)

Like this couple, hundreds of people reside along the coastal lines, living the same story every time disaster strikes.

In 2004, when Tsunami hit the coastal belt of Puducherry and Tamil Nadu, Shivalingam just managed to get to the shore after fishing in the sea. His family, including wife Umarani and their two sons, shifted to the nearby relief center in Kalapet. Sixteen years later, ahead of the landfall of Cyclone Nivar, the couple returned to the same center -- a government higher secondary school for girls -- in a municipal corporation vehicle along with seven others.

"Earlier communication was not this quick. I remember seeing dead bodies all around. Now there is television, there is mobile phone. Information is passed on quickly. We came here as soon as the authorities asked us to move. Ensuring our lives are not lost is most important," says 70-year-old Shivalingam.

He and his 65-year-old wife, with abnormal blood pressure and diabetes respectively, wait for government's food packets at the school where power was cut off hours before the cyclone made landfall. By Wednesday night, twenty more people joined them as the rain and winds intensified along this coastal belt.

"We are hoping we have to stay here only tonight and can go back tomorrow but we are not sure if we will have a home to go back to," says Umarani.

Like this couple, hundreds of people reside along the coastal lines, living the same story every time disaster strikes.

first published:November 25, 2020, 21:41 IST
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